The talent paradox: talent management as a mixed blessing

Dagmar Daubner-Siva*, Sierk Ybema, Claartje J. Vinkenburg, Nic Beech

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to provide an inside-out perspective on the practices and effects of talent management (TM) in a multinational organization. Design/methodology/approach: The study adopts an autoethnographic approach focusing on the experiences of the first author during her employment in a multinational organization. This approach contributes to the literature by providing an insider talent perspective that thus far has not been presented in TM research. Findings: Applying autoethnography as a means to address the inside-out perspective in TM reveals a tension. The authors label this phenomenon the “talent paradox,” defined as the mix of simultaneously occurring opportunities and risks for individuals identified and celebrated as a talent. Originality/value: The paper may be of value to TM scholars and practitioners, as well as to employees who have been identified as high potentials or talents in their organizations. In contrast with the TM literature’s optimism, the findings illuminate that being identified as a talent may paradoxically produce both empowerment and powerlessness. Attending to personal aspects of TM processes is relevant for organizations as well as for individuals as it enables reflection and sensemaking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-86
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Organizational Ethnography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • High potentials
  • Organizational autoethnography
  • Organizational change
  • Paradox
  • Talent management


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